The Spirits of England & France, Vol. 2 – Songs of the trouvères

The Spirits of England & France, Vol. 2 – Songs of the trouvères

Gothic Voices, Christopher Page (conductor)


This series is designed to explore the riches of French and English music from 1150 to 1450. Volume I of The Spirits of England and France (Helios CDH55281) contains an anthology surveying the principal repertories from which these recordings are drawn: monophonic songs of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the conductus and Ars Antiqua motet, the polyphonic chansons of fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century France, and English music for the Mass or other devotions. The music for this recording, Volume II, has been selected from the earliest layers represented on Volume I, namely the monophonic song repertories of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and specifically the songs of the trouvères. (The word ‘trouvère’ can be traced in the sense ‘a maker of songs’ from about 1165, in the Roman de Troie at line 5192. The fundamental meaning of ‘trouvère’ in Old French is ‘one who devises something’, and its usage was accordingly much broader than modern custom suggests.) Here are riches indeed, mostly from what is now Picardy, Artois, Champagne and Belgium. This repertoire is so large that a hundred recitals such as this would not encompass them. Nearly two thousand lyrics for solo voice have survived, with French words, from the period 1170–1300: love-complaints, tales of erotic adventures in the countryside, debates in verse about matters of love, political lyrics, spinning songs, prayers to the Virgin and calls to a crusade.

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